We received an email recently from one of our amazing vendors who questioned whether or not xanthan gum (E415) is actually vegan friendly. A little confused, we decided to look further into this additive/thickener. What is it actually made of, how is it made and, most importantly, is it vegan?
Originally, we had xanthan gum listed as a vegan friendly additive but after doing some research, we have removed it from the vegan list. Read on below to find out why.
What is Xanthan Gum?
Xanthan gum is generally used as a thickening agent or as an emulsifier. It is used to give a gel-like consistency and helps to bind individual ingredients. You can find xanthan gum in a variety of everyday products ranging from cosmetics to food.
Xanthan gum is obtained from bacterial fermentation.
Is Xanthan Gum Vegan?
As with most food additives, there is not one hard and fast answer. It is possible to obtain vegan friendly xanthan gum, but it is also a smart idea not to assume that all xanthan gum is vegan friendly. Why isn’t it vegan friendly if it is derived from bacterial fermentation? The issue lies in the manufacturing process, or more specifically, during the clarification of the additive. As described in
the patent for xanthan gum a patent for purifying xanthan gum, chicken lysozyme can be used. Additionally, in some instances, we found certain xanthan gum had been derived from fermentation of whey (a dairy by-product).
For the purpose of our website, we wanted to err on the safe side so we have removed it from our vegan friendly list of food additives. If ever in doubt, always ask the manufacturer directly who should be able to tell you the origins of their xanthan gum. Or, alternatively, look out for products where their xanthan gum is specifically marked as vegan friendly.
Have you been caught out by other additives which you always thought were vegan friendly? Tell us about it below!